Monday, December 10, 2007

Breaking Up: An American Protestant Habit

This past Saturday, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in California voted to separate from the USA Episcopal Church, and place itself under the authority of a bishop in South America. Why? Because of the ordination of women and the issue of ordination (and acceptance?) of those of us who are gay or lesbian.

While this separation is sad for all involved, it is an event that is happening in many denominations in the American Protestant mainline churches. For example, I was reading of the Presbyterian churches that are becoming part of a group called "New Wineskins," also because of the slow but steady acceptance of those of us who are gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender in the denomination. Of course, as we can find from looking at the history of the Church, the American Protestant church has a habit of dividing and separating over many different issues and reasons. As one former colleague of mine at Duke Divinity School used to remind us, if you want to find out how to separate in a denomination, just watch the Baptists!

Amid the news of the separation in another denomination, it is awkward for our families. For those of us who are part of the LGBT community, it reinforces the question: "Why does someone want to stay part of a club in which you are treated as a second class citizen?" For our children, the question raised is simply this: why doesn't a church like my mom or dad? Because they're gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?

Lessons abound for all of us in the midst of change that is happening around us as people who are part of the LGBTQ community are more and more a part of contemporary American life. Some day, sooner or later, even some churches will get the point as the Spirit of God blows a wind of change in our collective hearts, minds, and bodies.

Peace, Brett

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